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Chemists discover way to make new nitrogen products ‘from thin air’



chemical constituents

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A wonderful action with nitrogen has brought the world one step closer to creating a range of useful products ̵

1; from dyes to pharmaceuticals – from thin air.

The discovery comes from a team of Yale chemists who found a way to combine atmospheric nitrogen with benzene to make a chemical called aniline, which is a precursor to the materials used to make an assortment of synthetic products.

A study describing the process appears in the journal nature.

“In the long run, we hope to learn how to use abundant nitrogen in the air as a resource for synthesizing products needed by society,” said Yale chemistry professor Patrick Holland, lead author of the study.

Most attention has been focused on “nitrogen fixation”, the process by which atmospheric nitrogen is used to create ammonia. But as Holland and his colleagues point out, there are many other compounds, materials and processes that can use nitrogen in other forms – if researchers can find ways to make them with atmospheric nitrogen.

Holland said previous attempts by other researchers to combine atmospheric nitrogen and benzene failed. These attempts used highly reactive benzene derivatives that would degrade before producing a chemical reaction with nitrogen.

Hollande and his colleagues used an iron compound to break one of the chemical bonds in benzene. They also treated nitrogen with a silicone compound that allowed nitrogen to combine with benzene.

“Essentially, we are showing a new way of thinking about how to encourage nitrogen to create new bonds that may be adaptable to produce other products,” Holland said.


Nitrogen fixation in the world, explained


More information:
Sean F. McWilliams et al. Combination of dinitrogen and hydrocarbons through aryl migration, nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-020-2565-5

Provided by Yale University



citation: Chemists discover way to make new ‘thin air’ nitrogen products (2020, August 12) taken August 12, 2020 by https://phys.org/news/2020-08-chemists-nitrogen-products- thin-air. html

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